MGM Resorts Talks Sports Betting Numbers, Initiatives In Q3 Earnings Call

MGM Resorts International is having a busy week. On Monday, the casino operator announced a partnership with the National Hockey League (NHL). The next day, the company reported their third-quarter results in an earnings call.

They followed earnings with another landmark partnership announcement. MGM Resorts is now the official gaming partner of the New York Jets.

MGM Resorts sports betting initiatives just getting started

The casino operator is still just starting their nationwide endeavor into becoming a national sportsbook operator. They operate sportsbooks in New Jersey, Mississippi and, of course, Nevada and are expecting a busy 2019.

During the earnings call, MGM Resorts CEO Jim Murren reiterated plans to open sportsbooks in more states that legalize sports betting. After touting their acquisitions of Empire City Casino in New York and Rocksino in Ohio, Murren reminded gaming analysts that they don’t even have to operate a casino in a state to offer sports betting.

Their partnership with Boyd Gaming will allow them to operate a sportsbook in states that Boyd Gaming operates a casino.

While looking to future earnings, Murren stated that they are also just ramping up their partnership with GVC. They recently hired Adam Greenblatt as the CEO of the joint venture.

Murren discussed the beginning of this partnership during the earnings call.

He said “the infrastructure has been put into place in terms of the governance, hiring is underway, office sites are being scouted as we speak. Partnerships for the JV and other forms of technology, sports content, et cetera is under way.”

The ramp-up of MGM Resorts’ sports betting business is just getting started. They expect 2019 to continue the expansion of the business. Investors and onlookers should expect to see dividends from these investments by 2020.

Sports betting is booming everywhere for MGM

Football season and legal sports betting are a match made in heaven. Not only is the sports betting business doing well for MGM Resorts in states that have recently legalized sports betting, but it’s improving in Nevada casinos.

Murren also pointed out another eye-popping fact: the Borgata in Atlantic City is already doing about as much business as MGM Resorts’ luxury casinos in Las Vegas. He also says their casinos in Mississippi–Beau Rivage in Biloxi and Gold Strike in Tunica–are doing equally as well.

Football wagering accounted for nearly $4 billion in Mississippi in September. The revenue only speaks to part of the impact. Football accounted for nearly 75 percent of all sports bets placed in Mississippi during the month.

Murren tried to squash concerns that legal sports betting outside of Nevada would hurt their Las Vegas casinos. During the earnings call, he stated that MGM Resorts’ casinos in Las Vegas are showing that football (both pro and college) show an increased handle over 50 percent.

He didn’t correlate the increased handle to the potential of fewer leisure travelers at this time. That’s been the real concern, so that might be addressed on a future earnings call when there’s a larger sample size.

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Mobile to the rescue?

MGM Resorts was one of the last Nevada sportsbook operators to offer a mobile sports wagering app and adaptation from tourists is finally picking up. Mobile football wagers in Nevada are up about 60 percent this season, according to Murren.

MGM Resorts took the first land-based casino wager in New Jersey. Unfortunately, they were a little slow to offer a mobile app. After only releasing an Android app, they finally have PlayMGM in the Apple iTunes store for iOs devices. That should only help their efforts moving forward.

Mississippi doesn’t offer any kind of mobile sports wagering yet. The state is expected to approve mobile sports wagering in casinos only sometime next year.

Marc Meltzer

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Marc grew up on the mean streets of the South Bronx. He's the rare combination of Yankees and Jets fan which explains his often contrarian point of view. Marc is a freelance writer and social media consultant. Writing about steak, booze, gambling and Las Vegas is a tough job but somebody has to do it.